No one doubts that running in elections demand a lot of money. Greens don't have much. In fact, it seems to me that many Greens have moved from viewing "the love of money" as the root of all evil, to just "money".
The realist is that money has always driven politics. Will Rogers (1879-1935) had fun with this, as the following quotes are attributed to him.
- A fool and his money are soon elected.
- Politics has become so expensive that it takes a lot of money even to be defeated
Just remember that this was before the days of television and robo-calls. As regards the last quote, in the election that I am most familiar with, Jerry McNerney spent approx. $14 per vote to defeat Richard Pombo Pombo, on the other hand, spent just over $36 to lose. What is not included in this number if the amount of money that the Defenders of Wildlife, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters and the Humane Society dumped into the race in opposition to Pombo. That was easily over $10 for every vote for McNerney.
What do we need to think about as Greens? How serious are we about winning elections and how much money do we need to put in the bank to pull it off? If winning your election is going to take 80,000 votes, then you clearly need to think of raising $1 million to make it happen or have a very aggressive, very effective alternative strategy and friends with deep pockets.
The next thing to think about is where does the money come from. The Green Party has a formal position of not accepting money from corporations. That is reasonable. Other than that, I believe that we are governed by election law and individual conscience. Let me take the example of the Green Institute
that was mentioned by a Humboldt County resident in previous comments.
Even in the non-profits that are beginning to show up around the Green Party, money is important to get started and keep it running. As a party we do not
- have a full time press secretary;
- have even a secreatary who can answer the phone, set up meetings, prepare agendas, etc.
- have any on going data analysis of where our votes are coming from or where / why we are losing registration.
Maybe, this party would do better if we learned how to deal with money and its ethical use.
When we look at the Green Institute and those who were characterized as "Cobb Cronies", we find the following people on the board of directors: Gloria Mattera, Malik Rahim, Anita Rios, Audrey Thayer. Every one of these, have made significant contributions to the Green Party in their communities and to their communities themselves through grassroots activism. And yes, David Cobb is on the Board also. There is also a Board of Advisors that is possibly even more well known, including Medea Benjamin, Sam Smith and John Rensenbrink. So, this is the list of people who are called shills for the Demcrats.
I still don't buy all of the arguements. While I was not happy with the Republican effort to support Greens as an election strategy in Pennsylvania (and last election in Monterey County, CA), I don't find that the fact Dean Meyerson accepted money from people who were registered Democrats when starting the Green Institute was unethical. I have looked at the publications and collective work that Meyerson's group has published as part of the Green Institute's efforts, and there is nothing that I find which is so antithetical to Green Values as to be destructive. In fact, some of the members of the Advisory Board were notable for advising Cobb NOT to run on a safe states strategy.
If we want to continue to run this party on a purely volunteer basis, then we are also saying that we want a bunch of rich people running the party, because those are the only ones who have enough money to provide the full time effort required to do something right. If we are satisfied with half measures and sloppy work, poor communications, etc. then we have to accept the consequences.
And do not expect the public to bail us out with public financing of campaigns. Post election polling done by the Public Policy Institue of California
indicated that this is an idea that does not have very good reception with the voters of California. This was discussed by Frank Russo in the California Progress Report
So, if we want to start winning elections, we need to figure out how to raise money, ethically, and then come up with a way to measure the effectiveness of our expenditures. Sometimes allowing everyone to get "their share" does not make good sense.